On our first full day in Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei, we decided to explore the outdoors by taking a hike. Living in Seoul, we are unaccustomed to the flora and fauna of a tropical climate, so we were enthusiastic about getting out boots dirty and searching for spectacular views from atop the numerous mountains on the horizon.
We began our adventure by hopping on Taipei’s metro and transferring to the Xindian Line at Taipei Main Station. After a short ride we made it to the end of the rail in Xindian, where we departed and made our way towards the Bitan Recreation Area. We talked to the kind people at the information booth and they directed us up the road and told us to turn left at the Post Office. We did so and found ourselves at the trailhead to Lion’s Head Mountain not 5 minutes later.
The trail was typical of our Asian hiking experiences: stairs. Stairs for days. The only differences were the palm trees and lizards scampering from underfoot. Neither of us had ever experienced an area so tropical and, although the stairs were steep and endless, we were completely humbled by the place that we found ourselves. The views were incredible and every bend in the staircase brought new and exotic plants into view. Our tripod was constantly employed for pictures and video while we tromped through our newfound “jungle” and trudged up the endless stairs.
Again, in the same crazy way that we have encountered in Korea, hiking in Taiwan led to encounters with exercise equipment placed near the top of the mountain trail. Of course, we had to give it a try, as you will see in our video.
While joking about the parallel bars, chin-up bar, and sit-up benches a nice elderly gentleman approached us with a big smile on his face. He was probably 70+ years old and was elated to see us hiking the mountain on which he was doing his daily Tai Chi. He spoke to us and urged us to continue onward towards the top of Lion’s Head where we were assured wonderful views of Taipei 101.
As we neared the three story pagoda at the top, we passed other Taiwanese hikers that smiled and said ‘hello’ to us. Again, this country astounded us with its friendly and welcoming nature. We reached the pagoda and were immediately gratified with 360-degree views of the area, including the promised spectacle of Taipei 101.
As we took in the views and let our location set in, the weather turned and reminded us that we were, indeed, in a tropical region as the rain began to fall heavily. We took shelter at the pagoda for a while. Eventually the rain took a short hiatus and we took a chance to begin our descent. Predictably, the downpour resumed shortly after and we spent the rest of out hike carrying umbrellas and carefully placing our strides along the aforementioned steps as we went in the opposite, more perilous, direction. Rain be damned, we had a terrific time on our hiking excursion in Taiwan.